When British soccer reporter Mark Donnelly woke up Saturday morning and saw a flurry of notifications on his phone, he thought he’d missed an important announcement about the team he covers.
Then, when Donnelly checked the messages he was getting on Twitter, he worried he’d done something terrible the night before that he’d forgotten about.
“I very quickly figured out by looking at a quick Google search what had gone on,” Donnelly said.
Donnelly covers news about the Sunderland soccer team in northeast England.
The problem, he realized, is that he shares the same name with the former Vancouver Canucks anthem-singer who recently lost his job for singing at a “freedom rally” in Vancouver, where hundreds of people protested restrictions imposed by British Columbia’s provincial health officer.
The singer told the crowd, many of whom weren’t wearing masks or physically distancing, that he decided to sing because he questions the “draconian lockdown protocols.”
Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini tweeted that Donnelly was now the former Canucks anthem singer, followed by the Twitter hashtag wearamask.
Back in England, Donnelly the sports reporter soon realized the mishap and took to Twitter himself to clarify the error. Mark Donnelly, the singer, does not have social media accounts.
So apparently there’s a Canadian opera singer called Mark Donnelly who’s been causing quite a stir by refusing to wear a mask.<br><br>He doesn’t have Twitter. But I do.<br><br>My mentions have made for interesting reading this morning 🙃
Can you sing ‘O Canada’ without an English accent? ‘Cause we kind of need someone now…<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Vancouver?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Vancouver</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Canucks?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Canucks</a>
Shortly after he did, the tone of the messages he received changed.
“I’ve gotten a lot of nice, quite apologetic and very kind tweets from a lot of people,” he said.
As for advice for others who may end up in the same situation, Donnelly suggests keeping things light.
“I think you’ve got to just try and take it as light-heartedly as you can and not get too sucked in by it,” he said.
Based on his experience in the past couple of days, Donnelly thinks he might change his Twitter profile to a more close-up photo. He says he might also specify that he’s not Canadian.